Politics

Muslim Congresswoman-Elect Fights Off Facebook Hoax

‘Who said facts mattered?’ Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar responds to false statements attributed to her

Democratic Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Minnesota member-elect Ilhan Omar and fellow freshman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan made history on Election Day as the first Muslim women ever elected to Congress. But Omar is already fending off conspiracy theories targeting her for her religion. 

A post on Facebook superimposes an image of Omar on the cover of Time magazine with an accurate quote (“I am America’s hope and the president’s nightmare”) and a false and incendiary one (“I think all white men should be put in chains as slaves because they will never submit to Islam”).

Fact-checkers scoured Omar’s interview in Time and found no basis for the idea that Omar endorses slavery.

Still, some Twitter users seized on the false quote in order to direct vitriol at the incoming congresswoman, insulting her in Islamophobic terms.

Omar shared screenshots of the attacks and added the quip “Who said facts mattered?”

She also shared a link to the nonpartisan fact checking site PolitiFact, which flagged the image and gave it its harshest “Pants On Fire” rating as part of a partnership with Facebook to combat misinformation on the site.

When fact-checkers determine a post to be false, Facebook demotes it in users’ news feed in order to diminish its reach. As of Monday morning, the image containing the false Omar quote had been shared about 200 times. 

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